Just had lunch for the first time at Great Shanghai on Route 1 in Edison, NJ. Very nice place, very authentic food, and we were treated well. As the restaurant was filled with Asians, we expected to be given either quizzical looks or the "American" menu. The host, "Mike", led us to our table and handed my wife and I two menus, one "authentic chinese" and one "american," and suggested that if we wanted authentic, there were some specials as well. Wow! That was nice. No trying to convince the waiter the waiguo ren want the real stuff.
At Mike's encouragement, we ordered soup dumplings (he suggested crab and pork, but my wife doesn't like crab so we went with pork only), pork with five spice sauce, and "chinese broccoli raab but not bitter." I asked if this was gai-lan, but Mike said no, it's similar but less bitter.
I never had the much-discussed-here soup dumplings before, but they were very tasty. I am wondering the appropriate way to eat them. (Poke a hole and let soup drain into spoon; open, let cool, and eat at once?).
The braised pork was very good, though a bit too sweet. It's a pork shoulder, skin on, apparently braised with five-spice mixture and soy sauce. The sauce is then reduced to semi-glazy consistency, served with steamed baby bok-choy. The waiter offered to remove the skin, because "it has a lot of fat and American's don't like it." In fact, if you scrape the fat from the underside of the skin, what's left is very flavorful and very gelatinous. The gelatinous texture is prized in chinese cooking (think shark's fin).
The "chinese broccoli raab" turned out to be sauteed snow pea shoots. Someone obviously made a mistake in the kitchen, since there is no way one would describe pea shoots this way. We didn't mention anything, since this is what I was going to ask for in the first place, but Mike was so earnest I wanted to follow his recommendations. Very well executed again.
All in all, Great Shanghai was terrific, and very accomodating.
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